Letter: Collective action can, and has, beat the individual

Matthew Klein does a gross disservice to American history and American conservatism to suggest collective effort and identity have no proper place in either (“A rose by no other name,” Jan. 27).

In the 19th century alone, Klein’s much-vaunted “individualism, self-reliance and enterprise” posed no answer to the monstrous evil of slavery, which required a colossal exertion of state power, collective willpower and bloodshed to finally destroy. It was collective effort and state action that prevailed against fascism and communism, and that wrested civil rights from the teeth of vicious and prolonged opposition.

Yet in his hyperbolic rant, Klein refuses to even consider the possibility that the state may actually protect liberty from those who would deny it to others: freedom of speech, freedom of religion — any one of the rights the founders thought important enough to include in the Constitution. His chief complaint appears to be the redistribution of wealth and the growth of government. These are legitimate concerns in themselves, but hardly enough to justify his sneering contempt for any advocates of government activism and his absurd suggestion that they favor a totalitarian state.

Joel Pattison
Jan. 27
The writer is a senior in Berkeley College.


  • Yale 08


    The writer must clearly be incapable of believing his own spew.

    Communism + Fascism ARE COLLECTIVIST!!!

    Slavery in the USA was INSTITUTIONALIZED by our own government!

    Joel Pattison- your letter is not worth the kilobytes it was typed on.

  • Yale 09

    Hitler as a man, could have been beaten by any other man.

    But the Nazis were a group. They were a group that trampled the rights of the individual: the Jew, the Gypsy, the Christian, the Homosexual, the Communist, the Foreigner.

    Individuals brought down the Nazi Fortress Europe. FDR, Eisenhower, Churchill- these men get the undeserved glory. But the credit goes the the infantryman, the artilleryman, the pilot.

    Did you see Valkyrie? Tom Cruise's character displayed more moxie than their entire German nation.